Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Earth-Based Solar Eclipse Research

The July eclipse will be the 49th solar eclipse that Jay Pasachoff has viewed. A champion of using eclipse observations to study the solar atmosphere, he describes the science of eclipses in the cover story of the international journal Nature (June 11 issue). Pasachoff, who is chair of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Solar Eclipses, was invited to write the article as part of Nature's coverage of the International Year of Astronomy.

The July 22 total solar eclipse, visible from China and India (but not the United States), will be the longest in the 21st century. Teams of scientists from around the world will gather in China to study the corona, the sun's outermost atmosphere, for almost six minutes, unusually long for totality.

Most will be stationed at a 3,000-foot mountain site selected by Prof. Jay Pasachoff, a Caltech and Williams College astronomer and planetary scientist, in Tianhuangping, China, not far from Hangzhou or Shanghai.

The July event will be the 49th solar eclipse that Pasachoff has viewed. A champion of using eclipse observations to study the solar atmosphere, he describes the science of eclipses in the cover story of the international journal Nature (June 11 issue). Pasachoff, who is chair of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Solar Eclipses, was invited to write the article as part of Nature's coverage of the International Year of Astronomy.

The article describes the history of eclipse discoveries, such as the element helium and the verification of Einstein's general theory of relativity, as well as current themes in eclipse research.

One recent development in eclipse studies is the new computer capability of bringing out low-contrast features. One such spectacular image, involving processing by Miloslav Druckmüller of the Brno Institute of Technology in the Czech Republic, was selected by Nature for its cover.

The detailed structure of the corona is caused by the sun's magnetic field. Pasachoff's work with Druckmüller and with Vojtech Rusin and Metod Saniga of the solar observatory in Slovakia has led to several joint papers in the Astrophysical Journal on views of the changing corona. The corona changes not only from year to year with the sunspot cycle but also even within minutes, as the scientists saw by comparing their observations from Siberia and Mongolia at the last solar eclipse on Aug. 1, 2008. They plan to extend that work this summer with observations from India, China, and islands in the Pacific.

Pasachoff's team in China includes Bryce Babcock, staff physicist at Williams and several undergraduate students from Williams, where Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy. He chose the site on a visit over two years ago to southern China together with Naomi Pasachoff, a research associate at Williams, and Beijing scientists Yihua Yan and Jin Zhu.

Pasachoff and his colleagues have been studying, in particular, why the solar corona has a temperature of millions of degrees, much hotter than the sun's surface. They do so by using a special rapid-readout electronic camera and single-color filters chosen to show only coronal gas. They look for oscillations with periods in the range of one second, which would signify certain classes of magnetic waves. The detailed structure of the corona, revealed by imaging in the visible and x-ray regions of the spectrum, and the correspondence of bright coronal regions with sunspot groups, shows that magnetism is the cause of coronal heating and the coronal structure. A competing set of ideas of how the corona is heated to millions of degrees involves ubiquitous nanoflares, that is, relatively tiny solar flares going off all the time.

Studies of eclipses, transits of Mercury and Venus across the face of the sun, and occultations of Pluto and other objects in the outer solar system proceed in tandem. For his eclipse studies, Pasachoff uses a set of electronic cameras provided by NASA's Planetary Sciences Division, primarily for use in studying Pluto and other objects in the outer solar system. His studies of Pluto's atmosphere started with similar cameras that had been provided for eclipse work.

Pasachoff's research this summer, as much of his work in the past, is supported mainly by a grant from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society.


International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Solar Eclipses:

Williams College eclipse expeditions:
Pasachoff's books and other publications:

Jay M. Pasachoff | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>